Nov. 19: Mamata Banerjee this evening phoned CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta and asked whether he could persuade the Left to move against the UPA a no-confidence motion she had been planning, sources said tonight.
Dasgupta neither confirmed nor denied either the call or the reported proposal, although the Left had earlier in the day virtually ruled out backing a no-trust motion at this juncture.
"I will not speak on this. Whatever I have to say, I will say tomorrow," said Dasgupta who had yesterday spoken sympathetically of Mamata's plan to move a no-trust motion when the Lok Sabha convenes on Thursday.
The reported call came on a day the Left formally presented its case against a no-confidence motion, contending that the government was likely to sail through and tout it as a certificate for all its policies.
The BJP sounded undecided, largely because of the fear that the defeat of the motion would make the government immune to a similar threat for the next six months.
If Mamata indeed floated a Left-sponsored no-trust proposal, it will mean that she is trying to deepen the discomfiture of the four parties by portraying them as UPA-friendly and reach out to disgruntled leaders. Dasgupta has put in long years in the CPI but is not known for having the clout to change the Left stand.
Another interpretation will be that Mamata is keeping an escape route open in case her latest national foray also ends up as a replay of the presidential election misadventure. She can claim she tried her best, even going to the extent of offering to support a Left no-trust motion, but others were not willing to go against the UPA.
The BJP and the NDA are expected to discuss her appeal for support to the motion at two meetings tomorrow.
The reported contact between the Trinamul leadership and the BJP has emboldened the Left, which was initially caught in a bind on the no-trust plan, to speak up.
"If Mamata Banerjee brings a no-confidence motion with the BJP's support, we will not support it. Then it will be a BJP motion since Trinamul has just 19 MPs and 50 MPs are required to bring a no-trust motion," CPI veteran A.B. Bardhan said.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat cited a tactical reason. "A no-trust motion will only help the government cover up all the wrong measures it has taken and claim parliamentary mandate as it has the numbers to defeat such a motion," Karat said in New Delhi.
Karat termed Mamata's move a "wrong tactic" and said his party had already started talks with Opposition parties on supporting the Left demand for a debate and vote on FDI in retail. Karat added that the four Left parties had decided on a common strategy, virtually vetoing Dasgupta's position.
If the Left found clarity, the BJP tiptoed around a view in the party that Mamata's plan was "immature".
Several BJP leaders expressed the fear that the Opposition attack would run out of steam if the no-trust motion failed. They believe the government will sail through a no-trust motion comfortably.
At the same time, the BJP leaders acknowledged it would be difficult for them to reject outright Mamata's appeal. The BJP, as the principal Opposition party, has been repeatedly insisting the government had lost the "moral right" to rule. Besides, the BJP is still nursing hopes that one day it will be able to bring Mamata back to the NDA fold despite her compulsions in Bengal.
The BJP is also wary of the response of its allies. The Janata Dal (United) is learnt to be not keen on backing a no-trust motion immediately. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav yesterday met Karat, sources said. Sharad favoured a debate and vote on FDI in retail over a no-trust motion, according to the sources.